An English lecturer, a palliative care practitioner, and an absent poet have a confabulation

Chris Jones, Catriona Macpherson

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The possibilities for developing the poet Douglas Dunn’s archive (which includes the drafts and manuscripts for his collection Elegies, dealing with the terminal illness and death of the poet’s wife from cancer) for therapeutic benefit are
explored by an English lecturer (C.J.) and a palliative care practitioner (C.M.). This has led us to explore the potential benefit of this resource for health practitioners working with those affected by cancer and other life-limiting conditions. This article offers a “written conversation” (an acknowledged oxymoron of genre) about working with the themes of death and loss: a conversation which includes Douglas Dunn, who was not actually there. We reflect on the value of this “confabulation” as methodological inquiry, and its potential influence on practice. Thus, an example of “creative writing”
(the confabulation) becomes a piece of research into methodology regarding the use of “creative writing” resources (the poetry archive) in palliative health care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
JournalCultural Studies - Critical Methodologies
Issue number4
Early online date23 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2014


  • Cancer
  • Collaborative writing
  • Dying
  • Death and bereavement
  • Douglas Dunn
  • Literary archives
  • Palliative care
  • Poetry
  • Therapeutic writing


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